SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — A rabid raccoon attacked a person in Shenandoah County this past weekend, and health officials want the public to be aware.
According to a statement from the Lord Fairfax Health District, a person in the area of Georgetown Road, west of Mount Jackson, was attacked by an unprovoked raccoon on May 18.
The animal was captured by law enforcement, euthanized, and sent off for a rabies test, which came back positive.
The district says anyone in the community who may have come into contact with a raccoon in that area of the county between May 8 and 18 should seek care at an emergency department immediately.
Anyone who may have had a pet come in contact with a raccoon in that area should also seek care for their pet immediately too.
Rabies transmission requires contact between a rabid animal's saliva or central nervous system tissue with a fresh wound or a mucous membrane like the eye, mouth, or nose.
One rabies symptoms begin, the disease is 100% fatal, but it can be easily prevented if treatment begins immediately after exposure.
Everyone is encouraged to vaccinate their pets to protect them, family members, loved ones and the community at large from rabies. In fact, not only is it encouraged, it's required by Virginia law.
In addition to keeping pets vaccinated and keeping vaccinations current, the Lord Fairfax Health District says to take these steps to protect family members and pets from rabies:
• Avoid contact with wild animals, such as raccoons and skunks, or stray cats and dogs, particularly if it is behaving oddly or if it is seen in the daylight. These animals are the main carriers of rabies in the eastern United States.
• Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs. Feral or unknown cats and dogs may also carry rabies. Report bites or scratches from these animals to your physician or the Health Department.
• Report stray animals to your local animal control agency
• Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home
• Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.
• If you are bitten, scratched, or licked by any of these animals, seek medical attention immediately. Rabies is fatal to both animals and humans once symptoms begin, but it can be prevented in humans if they receive vaccine and medication soon after exposure.
For more information, or if you have questions about a possible exposure, visit vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/ or call the Shenandoah County Health Department at 540-459-3733.